City Big Data

How do modern cities explain their prosperity? In addition to economic factors culture plays a central part, and “cultural capital” is now seen crucial role in a cities success. There are numerous examples neighborhoods that have become prosperous by attracting creative individuals and industries. But this idea has been difficult to prove and measure. Now thanks to research from the University of Cambridge in the UK a way has been found a way to measure cultural capital in cities and its contribution to their success. The technique uses social media and data from photos tagged on Flickr and linked to creative activity associated with culture, such as advertising and marketing, architecture, publishing, crafts, films, TV and music. Flicker was mined to find geotagged photos labeled with these words in New York and London. With some 1.5 million photos taken between 2010 and 2015 the university link each photo to locations in London and New York to rank and compare changes in cultural activity over time in these places.

Franchise Public Transport

Transport infrastructure is always in the news and an interesting idea was contained in a PWC report from Feb 2016 suggesting that Governments should adopt a policy of exposing public transport services to competition by franchising some services. The PWC report suggesting that the focus of reform should be to improve customers’ experience. “Private operation of public transport through time limited, exclusive franchises – where providers compete to deliver services.” The first areas recommended for franchising being capital city bus and rail services, an interesting idea.

Social Kitchens

Kitchen have moved into the spotlight away from space where meals were made quietly and mess was hidden from guests. Today’s social kitchen is the central space for families and guests to mingle over snacks while dinner is prepared and everyone enjoys being connected to the kitchen. As a result, in homes and apartments the style and design of kitchens has become ever more important and a focus of buyer attention. Architects and developers are delivering sleek aesthetic and clean lines while appliance manufactures have responded with innovations like draw dishwashers and refrigerators helping to create the social kitchen.

Interest Rates Remain Unchanged (Again)

This week the RBA left rates on hole at 1.5% the comments made by Philip Lowe, Governor of the RBA are worth reading. “The housing markets in Sydney and Melbourne have slowed. Nationwide measures of housing prices are little changed over the past six months, with prices having recorded falls in some areas. Housing credit growth has slowed over the past year, especially to investors. APRA’s supervisory measures and tighter credit standards have been helpful in containing the build-up of risk in household balance sheets, although the level of household debt remains high. While there may be some further tightening of lending standards, the average mortgage interest rate on outstanding loans is continuing to decline.”

Short-term holiday letting plan a win-win

Release of the NSW Government’s short-term holiday letting plan aim to “support the sharing economy and give consumers more choice while cracking down on bad behavior.” In announcing the policy some key facts emerged including the estimated $31 billion annual contribution of online booking platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway (formerly Stayz) make to the Australian economy. There are also changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act, which will allow owners corporations to adopt a by-law, with a 75% majority, preventing short-term letting in their block if the host does not live in the unit they are letting out. The policy also includes a mandatory Code of Conduct for online accommodation platforms, letting agents, hosts and guests that would address noise levels, disruptive guests and effects on shared neighbourhood amenities. “Under a proposed ‘two strikes and you’re out’ policy, hosts or guests who commit two serious breaches of the Code within two years will be banned for five. There will also be a 180-day limit in Greater Sydney where the host does not live in the property, with 365 days allowed in all other areas of NSW. Councils outside Greater Sydney will have the power to decrease the 365-day threshold to no lower than 180 days per year.

Residential Loans Ledger

The RBA Governor made reference to the APRA’s role in the housing finance market, key statistics for ADIs with greater than $1 billion in housing loans for December 2017 show that the number of housing loans increased from 5,723,770 in December to 5,851,100 up 2.2% and the size of the average loan in December 2017 was $266,500 an increase of 4.1% over 12 months.

Residential Loans Higher than Commercial

APRA figures also show that at the end of December total value of domestic home loans was $1,578.2 billion and increase of 6.3% over the previous 12 months. Total commercial property exposure was $2709.5 billion a more modest increase of 3.9% over the previous 12 months. The growth in housing loan approvals dropped slightly in the 12 months to December 2017 at $100.3 billion down (-0.7%).